The ASI President, Melissa Bardo hosted a forum last week to discuss the ASI election process, which made history last year when 33 candidates competed for 14 elected positions and rallied 15.1 percent of the student body to vote. However, election complaints were filed against five elected candidates and resulted in hearings, appeals, and final decisions. While the elections process was carried out in accordance with the ASI Bylaws and ASI Elections Code, this proved to be a challenging cycle that led to discussions about future changes and updates that could be made to the process.
The forum consisted of five panelists who were directly involved in the last election:
Samuel Jones, 2015 Chair of the Election Complaint Committee
Haley Meyers, 2015 Chair of the Appellate Council Committee
Dr. Ed Mills, Vice President for Student Affairs
Ryan Allain, 2015 Presidential Candidate
Anthony Maalouf, 2015 Vice-Presidential Candidate
One of the main topics discussed was the guidelines set forth in the election code and if candidates should be allowed to run on slates. Dr. Mills said that there are currently “practices in the process that are carried forward from student to student that may not be outlined in the election code or bylaws.” This begs the question, is something a practice because it’s been done for so long or is it an actual policy? Language can help to clarify terms and give better definitions for students who are looking to run for office. Myers highlighted that even through it was a messy election, the student body was engaged and it’s important that we look to make the process easier for students wanting to participate in the future.
Currently, each candidate is allowed to spend up to $500 for their personal campaign and must turn in all receipts after the election is over. There is no pooling of funds allowed and no combining of promotional materials. Slates are not technically allowed but many candidates in the past have found ways around this through wearing the same colors and slogans, while not technically running as a slate.
Bardo brought up the idea of possibly allowing slates in the future and asked the panelists what they thought of this idea. Allain suggested that there could be a Presidential/Vice-Presidential ticket where they are elected together. However, when it comes to the individual Director positions, he suggested that they should be able to run as a slate without all needing to be voted in together. This is similar to how it is done at campuses like Cal State Fullerton and Cal Poly Pomona.
Dr. Mills said that it is important to make sure that it’s a fair and due process for all those involved. More education is needed beforehand to make sure that students understand what is ethical and what due process involves. Students need to completely understand the process before they run so that they are all able to participate fully.
An Elections Task Force is currently meeting to make prosed changes to the Bylaws and Elections Code. Dr. Mills pointed out that it’s important to get a sense what are the most significant changes to make this year because it will take a few cycles to figure it all out and implement the appropriate changes.